Phnom Penh Traffic Police at the junction of Monireth and Mao Tse Tung boulevards, where they are confiscating licence plates. (Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG)
Wednesday, 06 May 2009
Written by Sam Rith and Robbie Corey-Boulet The Phnom Penh Post
Changing PlatesCrackdown on unauthorised plates has led to a surge in applications for civilian plates at vehicle registration office.
- 140 drivers with RCAF plates have registered to switch to civilian plates by Tuesday
- 60 drivers with police plates have also registered
- The applications should take about one week to process
POLICE on Tuesday continued removing unauthorised police and military licence plates from vehicles throughout the capital, but officers said they had not yet begun administering punishments specifically outlined in the law that prohibits civilians and low-ranking officials from using such plates.
Sar Leng, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior's Traffic Office, said the ministry on Monday received 25 police plates that had been removed from vehicles not authorised to bear them.Traffic Police officers have been tasked with removing police plates, while Military Police officers are in charge of removing RCAF plates.
National Police Chief Neth Savoeun wrote a letter in February to officers instructing them to begin enforcing in May a law already on the books that outlaws the use of unauthorised plates.
Article 91 of the Land Traffic Law, which went into effect in March 2007, gave the drivers of private vehicles bearing such plates one year to switch to private plates.
The law stipulates that violators face two to five years in prison and a fine of between 4 million riels and 10 million riels (US$970 and $2,424), but Phnom Penh Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoeur said he did not know when officers would begin administering fines or making arrests. He said he would wait until he received approval "from the top" before taking those steps.
Rush to register
The onset of the crackdown on unauthorised plates has triggered a flood of applications this week at the capital's vehicle registration office, said Tat Sreng, its director. As of Tuesday morning, the owners of 140 cars bearing RCAF plates and 60 bearing police plates had visited the office to register for civilian plates, he said.
He said many of the registrants had been motivated to switch to civilian plates after Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a speech last week warning against the use of unauthorised plates.
Tat Sreng said the applications would in most cases take about one week to process.
Hun Sen said in his speech last week that vehicles bearing unauthorised police and military plates would "be included as property of the state".
The Land Traffic Law does not stipulate that vehicles with unauthorised plates will be confiscated.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap referred to the threat of vehicle seizure as "a stick or a sharp sword to warn" violators.
Sar Leng said he did not believe it would be necessary for the government to seize cars, noting that the crackdown combined with Hun Sen's remarks had led many violators to take steps to comply with the law.